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TM, ®, Copyright © 2021 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.

TM, ®, Copyright © 2021 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.

What if there is a Secret Russia-China Pact?
Articles on Russia before 2022

  • (july 2021)
  • (january 2022) What if there is a Secret Russia-China Pact?
    The Russian military buildup at the border with Ukraine is taking place at the same time that China has increased military incursions into Taiwan's air defence identification zone, or ADIZ, which could be a prelude to a full-scale invasion. It doesn't take a paranoid genius to wonder whether Putin and Xi secretly agreed to launch simultaneous attacks, so that the USA would have to split its attention and resources in two faraway regions, far from the USA and far from each other. It would be a smart move to overwhelm a declining and exhausted world power, the USA, that just lost a war against a far smaller enemy (the Taliban), a world power that is also divided along ideological lines and cannot find unity even on trivial matters. Nobody in the West has an appetite for war in the middle of the covid pandemic.

    China could be counting on the fact that the richest countries of East Asia are not military powers (Japan has a constitution that forbids rearmament, South Korea has a powerless army protected by the USA, Singapore is obviously no military power). Russia could be counting on the fact that Europe is even more divided than the USA, and there is no appetite in the strongest European countries for a real war in distant Ukraine. Germany has no real army, while France and Britain (the two military powers of Western Europe) are no longer in the same union and are sparring about just everything, from fishing rights to the Australian- British- USA pact. Russia also knows that Europe depends on Russia for oil and gas and Europe won't risk leaving its population in the cold. While there is a lot that Japan and the USA can do to harm the economy of China, there is very little that Europe and the USA can do to harm Russia's economy beyond the sanctions that are already in place.

    China has launched a transformation of its economy from an export-driven economy to a consumption-driven economy and may not care too much for sanctions. The only weapon that the USA has against China (short of military intervention) is to block the oil routes to the Middle East. However, a secret pact between Xi and Putin could mean that Russia has agreed to provide China all the oil it needs, perhaps in return for superior Chinese technology.

    Let's play this game and assume that Russia takes Ukraine and China takes Taiwan. (Personally i think that taking Russia is a lot easier than taking Taiwan - see Taiwan could be the Pearl Harbor of WWIII - but opinions differ). Then what? If China does take Taiwan, it will be relatively easy for China to quell any unrest there. The difficult part is to invade Taiwan. Once the invasion succeeds, the Chinese have plenty of experience in how to stop people from protesting and even just assembling. Within days there will be security cameras at every corner and drones surveilling even the countryside. The Taiwanese population has no gun culture, and Taiwan has strict gun laws, which means that most citizens have never had a gun outside of compulsory military service; not the readiest of populations to start a guerrilla war. So if China takes Taiwan, it just keeps it, the same way it keeps control over hostile populations in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong.

    Things might be slightly more difficult for Russia in Ukraine, a vast country, and a country where guns are much more common than the official statistics reveal, and a country that borders on Poland, Hungary and Romania, countries more than willing to let weapons be smuggled into Ukraine to covertly support an uprising. Chances of guerrilla warfare are much higher in Ukraine than in Taiwan. So the situation is asymmetrical: China's real problem would be the invasion, whereas Russia's real problem will be controlling the invaded country. After the fact, the world would look different in that Russia and China would be tightly coupled and mostly decoupled from their richer neighbors. This would certainly cause poverty in both China and Russia, and it's unknown whether those populations would feel that imperial pride was worth the decline in quality of life.

    Those richer neighbors would certainly decide to spend a lot more in weapons, notably Japan and Germany, both capable of developing nuclear weapons if they felt directly threatened by the Russia-China axis and lose faith in the USA's ability and willingness to defend its allies.

    What would the USA do? Probably bark very loud. The sad truth is that the USA would be the economic beneficiary of such a new world order, the country that would not suffer if Russia cuts oil and gas to Europe and if China is cut out of international trade. The USA has its own oil and its friends in the Middle East. The USA has a huge trade deficit with China. The USA is also the one that doesn't need to invest much more in defense: it already has the best defense in the world. Moscow and Beijing are very far. They represent no immediate threat. Mostly, the USA would become more paranoid about Latin America, just as it was during the Cold War, and it may find a pretext to "liberate" Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, i.e. the weakest links in the chain.

    The rest of the world would split in two camps, just like it was during the Cold War: some countries would align with the West, some countries would align with China out of economic interest and some countries would nominally align with Russia to avoid being invaded too.

    Life would go on until Putin and Xi die or lose power. And then probably both empires would end the way all colonial empires have ended in the last 100 years.

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